Microbiome and health: Stress, diet and genetics responsible for how bacteria influences our immune system

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Could the idea that there are “good” and “bad” bacteria be a false dichotomy?

In a study on mice, scientists found that a group of bacteria called Helicobacter, long associated with ulcers, stomach cancer and intestinal distress, turned “bad” only when placed in a bad gut environment.

In healthy mice raised in a nearly germ-free, controlled environment, the Helicobacter induced an immune response associated with tolerance, as if the body were saying it accepted the new bacteria along with its existing gut bacteria.

However, in mice bred to have colitis, a condition that involves inflammation of the bowel, the Helicobacter made the inflammation worse. The immune systems treated the bacteria as foreign invaders.

The study suggests that Helicobacter and similar bacteria labeled as “bad” may, in fact, be neutral or even beneficial, depending on the health of the individual. A person’s level of stress, poor diet or genetics all may influence the good or bad nature of gut bacteria, the scientists said.

Future studies may investigate the possibility of using bacteria as sort of a medical delivery system, like a vaccine, to directly access the immune system to help regulate autoimmune diseases.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How ‘Bad’ Gut Bacteria Can Change Their Evil Ways